Q1 2020 Trading Update
Solid operating results in Q1 2020; impact of COVID-19 on result 2020 uncertain
- Solid operating results in Q1 2020
- Occupancy rate of portfolio down slightly to 97.0% as at 31 March 2020
- Dividend proposal for FY 2019 reduced to € 1.43 per share
- Forecast for direct result 2020 withdrawn due to ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 outbreak and government measures
- 2020 interim dividend cancelled
- Annual General Meeting for 2019 financial year to be held on 25 June 2020
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The COVID-19 outbreak and the government measures taken in response are having far-reaching consequences for us all. In this situation the health and safety of our employees, tenants and visitors is paramount for Vastned.
The lockdowns and the voluntary and mandatory closures of shops, bars and restaurants in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain are having largely adverse implications for our tenants. For this reason, Vastned is in constant contact with these tenants, and has made arrangements with the large majority of tenants in the Netherlands that are in line with the agreements made within the industry. Similar talks in Belgium, France and Spain are still ongoing. The arrangements with tenants are tailored, taking account of the specific situation that the tenant is in, while at the same time taking the interests of all stakeholders into consideration, including Vastned's shareholders. The arrangements range from spreading payments for the quarter over months, paying in arrears instead of in advance, to suspension of all or part of the rent payment.
Vastned's liquidity position is good, but in view of the current uncertainty we consider it prudent to propose to the shareholders’ meeting on 25 June 2020 to reduce the final dividend for 2019 in order to further shore up the company's liquidity position. The new dividend proposal for 2019 is € 1.43 per share. In the same context Vastned has also decided to cancel the 2020 interim dividend.
The government measures due to the COVID-19 outbreak were introduced in the countries where Vastned operates in the second half of March. Vastned's results for the first quarter of 2020 were not yet impacted. Tenants are affected by the government measures and as a result Vastned has taken a number of measures, such as suspending all non-critical investments and implementing operating cost reductions. It has also been decided to reduce the fixed salaries of the members of the Executive Board and the remuneration of the Supervisory Board for the months of May, June and July by 15%. In view of the uncertainty about how long the present situation will persist and what the impact of the government measures will be it is not possible at this time to assess any impact on Vastned's result for 2020. For this reason, Vastned withdraws its forecast for the direct result for the year 2020.
Vastned's focus in these times will not change; maintaining the high occupancy of the portfolio remains its priority so that when the situation is normalised Vastned will be well positioned for a recovery.
Vastned is a listed European retail property company (Euronext Amsterdam: VASTN) focusing on venues for premium shopping. Vastned invests in selected cities in Europe with a clear focus on the best retail property in the most popular shopping streets in the bigger cities. Vastned's tenants are strong and leading international and national retail brands. The property portfolio has a size of approximately € 1.6 billion as at 31 December 2019.